Abdullah v. Howard
MEMORANDUM re Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus 1 (Order to follow as separate docket entry) Signed by Honorable Sylvia H. Rambo on 4/27/21. (ma)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
Presently before the Court is Petitioner Almashwali Abdullah’s petition for
writ of habeas corpus brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) Petitioner
seeks release to home confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Respondent
submitted an answer, arguing, inter alia, that Petitioner has failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies prior to filing his petition. (Doc. 8 at 1.) Petitioner has not
filed a reply, and the time for doing so has now expired. For the reasons that follow,
the petition will be dismissed.
Petitioner is presently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Center at
Allenwood in White Deer, Pennsylvania, and has a projected release date of July 14,
2022, assuming Petitioner receives all good conduct time he is eligible to earn. (Doc.
8 at 2.)
Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241 on November 12, 2020. (Doc. 1.) In it, he argues that it is impossible to
adhere to social distancing and other CDC recommendations regarding the Covid19 pandemic in prison, and he thus seeks transfer to home confinement. (Id. at 7.)
Petitioner states that he submitted a BP-9 administrative remedy form to the Warden,
but admits that he did not appeal his administrative remedies at any higher level of
review. (See Doc. 1 at 2.) He states that further exhaustion would be futile. (Id. at
4.) Petitioner has not filed a reply nor has he otherwise addressed the exhaustion of
Petitioner is seeking transfer to home confinement due to the Covid-19
pandemic. The petition must be dismissed, however, because Petitioner has failed
to exhaust his administrative remedies.
A prisoner must exhaust all stages of the administrative remedy system prior
to the filing of a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Moscato v. Fed. Bureau
of Prisons, 98 F.3d 757, 760 (3d Cir. 1996); Bradshaw v. Carlson, 682 F.2d 1050,
1052 (3d Cir. 1981) (“A federal prisoner ordinarily may not seek habeas corpus relief
until he has exhausted all administrative remedies.”); Arias v. U.S. Parole Comm’n,
648 F.2d 196 (3d Cir. 1981). Requiring inmates to exhaust their remedies serves a
number of purposes, such as “(1) allowing the appropriate agency to develop a
factual record and apply its expertise facilitates judicial review; (2) permitting
agencies to grant the relief requested conserves judicial resources; and (3) providing
agencies the opportunity to correct their own errors fosters administrative
autonomy.” Moscato, 98 F.3d at 761-62. Exhaustion of administrative remedies
requires compliance with an agency’s deadlines, other critical procedural rules, and
all steps of the available administrative process. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 9092 (2006); Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218 (2007) (proper exhaustion defined by
applicable prison requirements).
In order to exhaust administrative remedies, a federal prisoner must first
attempt to informally resolve the dispute with institution staff. See 28 C.F.R. §
542.13. Then, if informal resolution efforts fail, the prisoner may raise his complaint
to the warden of the institution in which he is confined. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.14. If
the warden denies the administrative remedy request, the prisoner may next file an
appeal with the regional director within twenty days from the date of the warden’s
response. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.15. Finally, if the regional director denies the appeal,
the prisoner may then appeal that decision to the general counsel of the Federal
Bureau of Prisons within thirty days from the date of the regional director’s response.
See 28 C.F.R. § 542.15.
The requirement that prisoners first exhaust their
administrative remedies applies even for requests for home confinement due to the
Covid-19 pandemic. See, e.g., Cordaro v. Finley, No. 3:10-CR-75, 2020 WL
2084960, at *5 (M.D. Pa. April 30, 2020).
Here, Petitioner admits in the petition that he has failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies. Petitioner’s argument that exhaustion would be futile is
unavailing, as the Court has previously determined that prisoners must still exhaust
their administrative remedies even if they only request home confinement due to the
pandemic. See, e.g., Jackson v. White, 3:20-cv-919, 2020 WL 3036075, at *7 (M.D.
Pa. June 5, 2020); Cordaro, 2020 WL 2084960, at *5. As such, the petition must be
dismissed.1 See Arias, 648 F.2d at 199 (noting that if a prisoner does not exhaust
available administrative remedies, the petition should be dismissed).
For the reasons set forth above, the petition will be dismissed. An appropriate
S/Sylvia H. Rambo
United States District Judge
Dated: April 27, 2021
The Court notes that the administrative remedy process is still available to
Petitioner, and thus Petitioner’s claim is not procedurally defaulted. In the
alternative, if the claim were procedurally defaulted, Petitioner has failed to present
any cause for his failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. See Moscato, 98
F.3d at 761 (“[I]f a prisoner has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies due
to a procedural default and the default renders unavailable the administrative
process, review of his habeas claim is barred unless he can demonstrate cause and
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